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made this extraordinary mistake from religious ignorance and indifference. They misread history and mistook Rome, because they were mere politicians, for want of spiritual discernment. The obscure and unenlightened Protestants who opposed them, possessed this spiritual discernment. They knew the Church of Rome aright, for they knew her spiritually. They needed no historic lore to behold in that Roman system which liberal statesmen and philosophers patronised as a curious relic of antiquity thoroughly cleaned and agreeably garnished, that very Popery which their fathers so rightly hated and so sternly held down, but which less favourable circumstances have rendered less formidable.
The unnatural alliance between Romanism and Liberalism was maintained to the no small shame and detriment of the latter. In 1835 the Lichfield House Compact was concluded; a Roman Catholic demagogue became the prop of a British ministry. The Whigs, those hereditary Protestants, those representatives of the Good Old Cause, those descendants of the men who voted the Exclusion Bill, who effected the Revolution, who established the Protestant Succession and twice conquered Ireland, stooped to hold office by the support and shape their policy at the bidding of a band of Irish Papists. Nothing helped so much as this connection to estrange the country from the Melbourne ministry; England looked upon the Whigs as the creatures of O'Connell, and branded this dependence at the election of 1841, when their discomfiture was the triumph of outraged Protestantism not less than of menaced Protection. In 1845 Sir Robert Peel aggrieved that Protestant feeling which had in no small measure borne him back to power by the enlarged and permanent endowment of Maynooth College, another inexpedient concession to political expediency, another vain attempt to conciliate the Roman Church, conceived in total ignorance of the character of that Church and made in direct defiance of that anti-papal instinct of Britain so much profounder than the insight of her deepest thinkers, so much more prophetic than the foresight of her greatest statesmen.
But British statesmanship was to attempt, happily without success, one more unwise defiance of British feeling, and pay a parting act of courtship to the papacy. England had not only renounced all dependence upon Rome, but had declined all intercourse with her; not only was her spiritual yoke thrown
off, but recognition was withholden from the papacy as a European power. For nearly 300 years no English envoy had resided at Rome except for a year or two during the reign of James II. Every other considerable non-Catholic state, Russia, Prussia, the Netherlands and the United States kept a representative there. Britain alone, in her great wisdom and to her great advantage, kept none. With that exact knowledge of the papacy to which her intense anti-papal feeling helped her, she saw that the only way to escape harm from Rome was to have nothing to do with Rome, to keep out of Concordats, and decline all dealings with Duessa. In 1846 Pius IX. mounted the papal throne; a liberal pope astonished the world and fascinated all men except those fortified and enlightened by a spiritual discernment of the Roman See. English Liberalism was charmed; a Liberal Ministry felt that it would be quite à misfortune and mistake not to become intimate with a Liberal pope and accordingly in 1848 brought in a bill for establishing diplomatic intercourse with the court of Rome. This bill would have become law but for the happy amendment of Lord Eglinton, which by declaring an ecclesiastical envoy inadmissible in England rendered the measure inadmissible at Rome. Thus England after three centuries of non-intercourse with the sovereign of the Roman States barely escaped the absurdity of making his acquaintance a few months before he ceased to be an independent sovereign and became the outcast of Italy and the dependent of France, and only eleven years before the establishment of that Italian kingdom which has swallowed up almost all the papal territories and threatens to blot the pontiff altogether out of the roll of European sovereigns. The gift of prophecy was not required to have kept English statesmen from this mistake; they needed only to have followed the sure guidance of the national anti-papal feeling, and to have been no wiser or more far-seeing than the bulk of their Protestant countrymen.
Two years afterwards occurred the liveliest outbreak of that feeling which this generation has witnessed. In 1850 Pius IX. bestowed upon this country a pontifical bull and a Romish hierarchy, dealt with it in medieval style and divided it into Romish sees. England to her astonishment and indignation found herself the object of a papal aggression. The surprise may have been somewhat out of place; the exceeding wrath may have done the papacy too much honour; the intervention
of Parliament and the action of the government may have been inadequate and ineffectual. But the Papal Aggression was a remarkable and welcome event; it manifested to the whole world the intensity and steadfastness of English Protestantism; it disappointed the calculations based on Tractarian efforts; it gave the lie to the prophets of Romish ascendency. It showed that the old fire was unquenched, that the old hatred was fastrooted still, that Rome was still for England what she had been for ages, an object, not of desire but of aversion, not a guest to be welcomed and made much of, but an invader to be defied and resisted.
This lively outbreak of English Protestantism has been succeeded by a somewhat dull and heedless mood. More than one unwise and superfluous concession, uncalled for by the largest conceptions of religious liberty, and inconsistent with the constitution, has been made to the Roman Church. Since the removal of its disabilities, that Church has partaken of the expansion exhibited by most things and most churches in England since 1830, and has appropriated without hindrance the many minds with a leaning towards formalism, superstition, sacerdotalism and implicit faith. The sacerdotal uprising of 1833 in the Church of England has without doubt much ministered to this expansion. Certain strong tendencies of contemporary thought, Humanitarianism and Ritualism, the disposition to subordinate religion as everything else to the tastes, likings and supposed interests of men, the impatience of definite doctrines, and the disposition to regard religion as an outward service rather than as an inward principle and power, have shared their favours in England at least between Rationalism and Romanism, while they have combined their relaxing power against doctrinal Protestantism; just as political changes have done something to relax and impair the Protestant Constitution of England as established and perfected by the Revolution of 1688. The throne of Great Britain happily still remains consecrated to Protestantism, though the Parliament has ceased to be an assembly of professed Protestants. An English patriot cannot look back without a noble pride and pleasure upon England under the unimpaired Protestant Constitution from 1688 to 1829. With all its restrictions, abuses and shortcomings, that time was a time of freedom, prosperity and progress; it far surpassed in every element of national worth, greatness and felicity, the cor
responding period in every other European country. There were restrictions, but there was no oppression, no persecution. Like every other period of Protestant ascendency, it was a time of national glory and greatness. Like Reformed England under Elizabeth, like Puritan England under Oliver, England under the unimpaired Protestant Constitution, largely manifested her might and majesty abroad; she attained to supremacy among the nations and to the dimensions of a mighty empire. Nor was Protestantism merely a power in the State and a partner in the Constitution; it went forth as a renewing power over the land; it dwelt mightily in the hearts of the people; it produced Methodism, quickened Nonconformity, reinvigorated the Church of England, multiplied the Word, set the slave free, and spread the Gospel over the world. The great spiritual revival of the last century was a mighty outbreak of inward, Protestant Christianity; its great public results, the Bible Society, the efforts to evangelise the world and the downfall of the slave trade and slavery, were preeminently Protestant works.
In our day, though the Protestant Constitution has been impaired, though the Roman Church has advanced, and though an ecclesiastical faction chafes against the Protestant character of the English Church, yet Great Britain may still boast the unutterable and inestimable blessedness of being a pre-eminently Protestant land. That law is still a living letter which declares popery incompatible with the chief place in the United Kingdom, and which ennobles the throne of Great Britain by connecting it with the profession of Protestantism. The royal family boasts the most illustrious Protestant origin and associations and reckons among its ancestors two martyrs of the Reformation, John Frederick elector of Saxony, despoiled by Charles V., and Frederick elector Palatine, despoiled by Ferdinand II. for devotion to the Protestant cause. The Church recognised by the State, both in England and in Scotland makes a clear anti-papal profession and holds a distinctly Protestant theology. The characteristic spiritual life of the country, the spiritual power which goes forth from the nation, is strongly and signally Protestant. The manifold energy, commercial, social, political and intellectual, put forth by the British people, reveals the predominance of its Protestant spirit. The strength and the glory of Great Britain are the strength bestowed and the glory enkindled by Protestantism.
Though too often dull and sluggish, English Protestantism is still capable of very lively outbreaks, as the stir in 1850 showed; and its presence and power have been still more recently manifest in the fullness of delight wherewith Great Britain has hailed the uprising of Italy. If England was angry at a piece of pontifical impertinence, she has not had long to wait for revenge. In 1850 she was chafing beneath the Papal Aggression; since 1860 she has been enjoying the Papal Peril. Three centuries ago she chose the better part and is now reaping the full reward. Unendangered by the peril, unentangled in the embarrassments, undisturbed by the convulsions of the popedom, she can look on and rejoice. The action and utterance of the government in this Italian business have been true to the heart of the nation. The bearing of England in this papal peril is in noble keeping with the unbroken flow of her anti-papal feeling and the whole course of her anti-papal Past; while the hapless pontiff, turning in sorrow and despair from the troubled visage of Austria, and from the dark and doubtful countenance of France, can read no consolation in the calm and majestic gladness which illumines the face of Protestant England.
ENGLISH LITERATURE AND THE ROMAN CHURCH.
THE Protestant signature so indelibly impressed upon English history, is not less strongly stamped upon English literature. The utterance not less than the action of England has been persistently and magnificently anti-papal. The mighty masters of the English tongue have fully partaken of the national feeling and have found in the expression thereof a noble exercise for their gifts. The chief writers of England have been among her chief Protestants. Her learning, her wit, her philosophy, her genius, her eloquence, her poetry, her invention have been suffused all over with the glow of her Protestantism. Without reckoning its direct efforts and manifest monuments in theological treatises and controversial performances, this masterpassion has attended as an inspiring presence the whole course of English Literature. It has wielded the popular song, it has appeared in the popular novel, it has sparkled in the light